Campus, Coronavirus, News

BU plans to move senior week online

All-University Commencement for the graduating class of 2019 at Nickerson Field. Boston University is trying to preserve its traditional senior week with virtual events and activities. SOPHIE PARK/ DFP FILE

Boston University’s annual senior week is set to move online this year. The choice to preserve the tradition comes at a time when campus stands nearly vacant amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office of the Dean of Students and the Student Activities Office are in the preliminary planning stage of the virtual event. The plans are expected to be finalized in approximately a month, according to BU spokesperson Colin Riley.

In the past, senior week has consisted of trips to Newport Beach, Six Flags and Martha’s Vineyard, along with events like cookouts, harbor cruises and brewery tours.

Riley said SAO considered the interests of each graduating class when planning the events, and that they aim to help students make lasting memories with their classmates.

“The purpose of senior week is to celebrate with classmates you have spent four years on campus with,” Riley said. “People who have gone through a college experience where you come in from your hometown and you meet people from all around the country and all around the world, you’re now all going to go off on a new adventure and it is a great way to have some quality time with individuals you care very much about.”

Riley said that the traditions and excitement of senior year and graduation are an integral part of the college experience, and the university has not lost sight of this despite the pandemic.

“You only turn this age and you only graduate and you are only a senior one year,” Riley said. “All of these things are really important. So, I am really pleased that the Dean of Students Office is really paying a lot of attention to [senior week] and going to preserve and address it properly and appropriately as they are able to do so.”

Katherine Cornetta, assistant to the Dean of Students, said that while the senior week is only in its preliminary stages, one specific event that has been set to move forward in planning is the annual senior week breakfast.

“I don’t know if we are using Zoom, per se, but I know [Information Services and Technology] is really working hard,” Cornetta said. “We are trying to find some kind of online virtuality for the senior breakfast, for people to have their virtual table of friends and watch the presentation and still be able to have their side conversations.”

Elizabeth Puckette, a senior in the College of Communication, said she is curious to see how well the breakfast will function.

“I think [the virtual breakfast] is a really cute idea and I think if they can pull it off, it can be fun,” Puckette said. “It is probably the best that we are going to get for a lot of these events.”

Grady Gillett, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he commends BU for their work in preserving the spirit of senior year, but thinks their energy should be channeled elsewhere.

“I appreciate the sentiment behind [online senior week],” Gillett said. “But I think that most seniors agree that it is not the same. At this point, honestly, I think this effort should be dedicated more towards helping students who are in difficult spots, because I don’t see how a virtual senior week will capture what senior week is supposed to be.”

Puckette said she has doubts about the ability to preserve the typical senior week experience, which is grounded in experiencing new activities and places with classmates, but is in support of the efforts to preserve the week virtually.

“I think right now anything the school can do to preserve a sense of normalcy for its students is going to be really helpful,” Puckette said. “Just because so many of us are stuck in our homes in these kinds of daily routines and we are all going a little crazy.”

2 Comments

  1. I’m sorry but this is a bad idea. As a current senior who feels just as saddened as the rest of us by the horrible turn of events, I don’t know a single person who would tune in to a “virtual senior breakfast.” First of all, we are spread out all over the world so how would timezones work? Second of all, if we want to talk to our friends, we do that on our own. The magic of senior week (and the senior breakfast) is that you get to see people who you weren’t too close to, and might not see ever again, and have those final conversations with them. How is the university going to know who those people are for all of us?

    Why doesn’t the university just reschedule our graduation until May 2021, the week after/before the class of 2021 has graduation? They could still have all of the equipment for the stages ready, and we could have senior week and graduation then, when we are much more likely to be in the clear regarding COVID-19. I know one of the issues my international friends were having was that if graduation is rescheduled to sometime this summer/fall, they might not be able to get flights back given the cost of such short notice and the instability of this time. Moving both senior week and graduation to next year would solve both of those issues and we would still get the magic of seeing everyone again. Please do not do a virtual senior week. No one would show up and no one wants to do another Netflix party.

  2. BU should just give us the money they’d spend on all the senior week and graduation activities. Everyone is going to be at different places in their lives whenever they might be able to host graduation and having a graduation ceremony makes people who can’t attend because they have to work or can’t afford to fly again feel left out. Having a virtual breakfast when some of us are having trouble getting food is like spitting in our faces.